WASHINGTON, April 11, 2017 – When it comes to some large American corporations these days, it boils down to a matter of “Dumb and Dumber.” We’ve been after American industries for years for the left-liberal virtue-signaling behavior of some idiotic CEOs. (And we’ll do it again, soon.) But today, we’re dealing with just plain stupid behavior from the giant U.S. airline that does stupid best: United Continental (UAL).
Truth-in-reporting warning: This writer has avoided UAL like a plague for years. Two times in a row I was left stranded at small remote airports without a way out by United via its contract feeder airlines that operate under the UAL logo. Reason: plane was grounded at another airport “waiting for parts.”
After delaying for hours, they finally, predictably, canceled the flight, the second time making it impossible for me to put together alternate arrangements, causing me to miss reviewing a rarely performed opera performance. The uniformly stoical, unsympathetic and unhelpful ground staff at UAL gates just added to the fury and misery. I’ve experienced this before on regular UAL flights as well, but these aborted trips—and particularly the arrogance and indifference of this airline’s employees—took the cake.
Which brings us to the current UAL outrage, unsurprisingly once again involving one of the giant airline’s contract feeder airlines. After successfully bribing 3 of the 4 passengers it needed to “bump” to make way for 4 other passengers, UAL essentially ejected the final passenger it arbitrarily chose to bump.
Unsurprisingly, the random victim didn’t take the choice very well and let loose on the staff, which, of course, promptly called in the airport cops who summarily dragged the kicking and screaming passenger off the plane.
The four new passengers, BTW: UAL crew members who needed to get to the destination airport to staff another flight which would otherwise have been canceled. In other words, ironically, after all the passenger ejection brouhaha, UAL bumped a total of four paying passengers for four non-paying passengers.
Yes, I know, the airline’s math was impeccable. Why not eject (and lose the fares plus the bribes) from those passengers given that the alternative, apparently, would be to cancel an entire flight full of paying passengers?
Nonetheless, the airline is taking yet another well-deserved PR hit today, with its shares getting battered as badly as a negative 4 percent at their worst point in Tuesday morning trading action. Like “The Thing” in Marvel’s “Fantastic Four” likes to say when PO’d by some villain’s nefarious actions, “It’s clobberin’ time!”
UAL is, as always, proving to be its own worst enemy today. After attempting to make nice with both UAL passengers and the public via a Monday evening PR statement, UAL’s CEO Oscar Munoz undercut himself in an internal letter to UAL’s employees, one which took an entirely different tone.
Munoz congratulated the employees involved in the passenger’s ejection for following “established procedures,” accusing the passenger of being “disruptive and belligerent.”
CNBC provided further details in a Tuesday morning report:
“United had to ask several passengers who had already boarded a flight from Chicago to Louisville on Sunday evening to leave, as the airline had sold too many tickets. One man refused to leave, and United called airport officials, who forcibly removed him from the plane.
“Video circulated of the incident earlier in the day, showing the man being dragged from the plane and later returning with blood on his face. The incident drew scorn on Twitter and other social media, especially when Munoz used the euphemism ‘re-accomodate’ in a public statement to describe the customers booted from the flight.
“According to the letter, which was obtained by CNBC, when crew members first approached the passenger to tell him to leave, he ‘raised his voice and refused to comply,’ and each time they asked again ‘he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent.’
“Crew members ‘were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight,’ Munoz wrote, and at one point the passenger ‘continued to resist – running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials.’
“Munoz acknowledged to employees that the company could learn lessons from the incident, but said: ‘I emphatically stand behind all of you.’”
Here’s the now viral video, via CNBC. Judge for yourselves:
If this passenger had been you or I, I’m not sure we’d have been any less pleased at being arbitrarily thrown off a UAL flight, although every individual’s level of righteous fury can vary. But what if, for various reasons, we absolutely had to get to our destination on time, as in a death in the family. How would things have gone then?
But United, arbitrary and arrogant as usual, just wanted this dude off the flight, and to hell with the repercussions. They’re getting them now, for sure. Giving my own experiences with these jerks, I’m wondering how many others over the years have quietly boycotted this miserable excuse for an airline.
BTW, love that term “re-accommodate.” I wonder what that bloodied up passenger thinks about this latest example of new and improved doublespeak. (Actually, it’s Washingtonspeak at its finest.) Is this dude feeling “re-accommodated” today?
United may have saved themselves a canceled flight. But watch out for a parade of lawsuits against the airline, its CEO, its personnel, and those always friendly Chicago airport cops who bloodied up the recalcitrant passenger. Another lose-lose for this loser airline, which, incidentally, traditionally can’t make its quarterly numbers, either. Small wonder why.
Don’t miss the next thrilling episode.
(Late UPDATE: The Washington Times reports that the ejected passenger is a physician and a convicted felon. That news, if verified, may shed light on this passenger’s actions, but in no way gets United off the hook for its own boorishness and customary poor treatment of its customers.)
But UAL isn’t the only company left bleeding on Wall Street’s virtual tarmac today. Apple (AAPL) and other techs are also taking a dive in Tuesday trading action, apparently due to increasing tensions in East Asia and elsewhere, as in Syria.
But it’s likely East Asia, specifically the raging lunatics in North Korea, that are giving the techs serious heartburn. U.S. techs have enthusiastically outsourced most if not all their manufacturing activities to that area of the world. Now their investors are worried what will happen if, say, the latest Mad Dog Kim decides to obliterate Seoul, just because.
Well, if you add a couple other East Asian cities and locales—Tokyo, Taiwan and maybe even Manila come to mind—one thing that might happen, in addition to mass death and destruction, is mass obliteration of tech companies like Apple. They’d be left almost entirely without product for the indefinite future. How wise is this kind of vulnerable supply chain, Tim Cooke? How good would it be for Apple’s fabled bottom line?
Far-fetched? Generally speaking, you might think so. But it’s hard to think of any world leader who’s currently as deranged as the North Korean psycho known as Kim Jung-Un. Which is precisely what has traders on edge in Tuesday trading.
The Trump administration is wisely taking a firm stand against this world-class tyrant, murderer and extortionist. But as always, there are psychological, business and perhaps human consequences in taking such a stand, and Wall Street—as well as any tech stock dependent on this part of the world for parts and finished products (i.e., pretty much all of these companies)—some kind of mini-Armageddon (or worse) in that part of the world is a frightening prospect indeed.
Other tech companies are getting hit as well. ON Semiconductors (ON) is getting beaten up extra hard due to the stock’s abrupt downgrading to “Underperform” from “Buy” by a Credit Suisse analyst who needs his head examined.
Why drop this stock right down to Credit Suisse’s effective “Sell” rating without taking at least a brief trip through “Neutral” just to make sure of that “Underperform” assessment? Other brokerages still have buy ratings on the stock, and even Credit Suisse doesn’t really make a great case for this double-drop in ratings.
We, of course, hold the stock, which puts this analyst in our dog house along with the entire HQ and staff of United. As always in such cases, Mr. Market will likely be the final judge.
In general, the tone of the market remains lousy, and so does our mood today. So we’re outta here right now. Have a good afternoon.